UC Berkeley News


A week of Constitutional conversation
Journalists, judges, politicos, and scholars share the spotlight as the campus observes Constitution Day

| 11 September 2008

  Linda Greenhouse
Linda Greenhouse

Four years ago, a federal law was enacted requiring all universities, colleges, and schools receiving federal funding to hold an annual educational program on the U.S. Constitution. This year’s Constitution Day, which falls on Wednesday, Sept. 17, will be observed at Berkeley with nearly a week’s worth of events.

“Courts, Politics, and the Media,” an afternoon forum on Tuesday, Sept. 16, will take place from 1:15 to 4:30 p.m. at the Bancroft Hotel, 2680 Bancroft Way. Judge William Fletcher of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, several nationally prominent journalists, and members of the Berkeley faculty will lead the debate.

The forum’s journalists include Linda Greenhouse, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent who recently retired from the New York Times after a 30-year stint covering the U.S. Supreme Court; Emily Bazelon, a legal writer for Slate.com; and Henry Weinstein, legal reporter and analyst for the Los Angeles Times until his recent retirement. Gordon Silverstein, professor of political science, will moderate the discussion, which will also include the voices of Berkeley law professors Goodwin Liu and Jesse Choper, as well as of Molly Selvin, a legal historian and former Los Angeles Times reporter who is interim dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

The following day, Wednesday, Sept. 17, Greenhouse will deliver the Graduate Council’s Jefferson Memorial Lecture, where she will discuss “The Mystery of Guantanamo Bay” at 4:10 p.m. in the Lipman Room, 8th floor, Barrows Hall.

As Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, Greenhouse didn’t shy away from airing her personal legal and political views. In a speech she gave at Harvard in 2006 after receiving the Radcliffe Institute Medal, she opined that “our government . . . turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let’s not forget the sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism.”

In January, Greenhouse will join the faculty of Yale Law School, where, as the Knight Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Senior Fellow, she will teach courses and advise students.

On Thursday, Sept. 18, at 4 p.m. at 119 Moses Hall, the Institute of Governmental Studies will present Louis Fisher, who will discuss his book The Constitution and 9/11: Recurring Threats to America’s Freedoms. Fisher is a specialist in constitutional law and a leading national authority on separation of powers. In The Constitution and 9/11, which will be published by the University Press of Kansas on Sept. 11, Fisher provides an overview spanning two centuries, tracing the longstanding tension between defending constitutional rights and our country’s borders.

The campus’s observance of Constitution Day will culminate in an all-day conference on Friday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Lipman Room, Barrows Hall. “The American Presidency at War” will bring together former government officials and leading legal scholars and political scientists to discuss the impact of war on the federal executive. The conference includes three panels: “War and Presidential Politics,” “The Imperial Presidency and the Founding,” and “Rethinking Presidential Powers in the 21st Century.”

The 4 p.m. keynote session will feature two former White House officials. Ken Mehlman served as campaign manager for President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign after serving as White House political director during Bush’s first term; he is now managing director and head of Global Public Affairs at the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. John Podesta, who served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton from 1998 until the end of his second term, is now president and chief executive officer of American Progress, a progressive think tank.

For information about Constitution Day, visit www.universityofcalifornia.edu/constitutionday.

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